How to Avoid the 4 Biggest Mistakes with Window Treatments.

Whether you consider yourself traditional, transitional or modern in style, window treatments make a big design statement about possibly the most important architectural feature of your home, as well as provide warmth, privacy and light control.

You may have a great view from the window or one you would rather hide. You may have large open windows or small windows which you wish looked bigger. In both cases, there are ways with window treatments that will enhance your room and disguise its limitations. Avoid these common mistakes.


Mount Draperies, Valances and Shades at the Correct Height for Your Window


window treatments, draperies, Drapery design,
Draperies mounted just under the crown molding. TDF Interiors


If you only have about 12″ to 14″ between the top of your window and the ceiling or crown molding, install the pole about an inch below the crown molding.  You will still see the crown molding but the windows will look taller and your ceiling higher.  In this project,  we used one continuous pole which creates a sense of rhythm and grace while emphasizing the beautiful arches of the transom windows above the french doors. Needless to say, make sure your draperies are not too short and, at most, float no more than 1/4″ off the floor.


If Your Window Does Not Have Attractive Architectural Details, Hide Them


window treatments for patio doors, window treatment design, draperies, Chicago North Shore,
Valance and Draperies enhance plain patio doors.  Design by Tdf interiors

Sometimes a pole does not enhance a simple window with no interesting architectural details.  Here we made a custom valance to create additional height. It makes the window look larger and taller. The curved shape of the valance softens the hard lines of the window and enhances the view.  A contrasting colored welt at the top where the valance meets the ceiling draws the eye up and again helps make the window appear taller.

Here is the “Before ” picture.

Before picture, window treatments, draperies
Before picture.

The pole was mounted at ceiling height but it did nothing to enhance this window.


Make Sure the Proportions are Right

Too often I see draperies with valances which look either too short or too long for the window.  It is so important to scale the valance to the window and height of the room.

Equally think about the stacking height of roman shades and blinds when they are up.  Dont forget that they can be mounted above the window to emphasize height.  Consider their scale relative to the size of the window. This is best illustrated with an example of how not to do it!


Short valance for kitchen window
Short valance above kitchen window


This is a pretty valance but looks too short and narrow relative to the window and kitchen cabinets below.  The effect is also top heavy with the wall cladding above and the white kitchen cabinets below.  It would have looked so much better if it was longer and mounted higher, so that the bottom edge came just below the top of the window frame.  There are various formulas and ratios for calculating the length of a valance or shade but they can only be used as a rough guide as other design factors come into play, as this window valance illustrates.


Kitchen window valance, Lake Forest, Chicago North Shore
Kitchen window valance by Tdfinteriors

I designed this perfectly proportioned valance for this small kitchen window with contours echoing the crown molding of the wall cabinets above.

Make Sure your Draperies Have Enough Fullness

Even if you do not need working or traversing draperies and they are designed as just decorative panels, don’t make the mistake of using only one width of fabric unless your window is very small. Flimsy and skimpy drapes which are disproportionate to the size of the window look rather cheap.  If you have fallen in love with an expensive fabric, add lining and heavy interlining to create extra fullness.  You want them to look as if they are real working draperies and not fake ones! It is like buying a long evening dress which fits badly and is too short.


Elegant living room drapery panels, silk draperies, window treatments, Lake Forest, Chicago North shore
Elegant living room drapery panels designed by Tdf interiors

When designed with careful attention to the mood, lighting, architectural features and focal point of a room, draperies, valances and shades can do a lot more than just provide privacy, warmth, color, pattern and intimacy.

We always think about improving and enhancing your whole living space when creating a design for your windows.